A Q&A with Netgrif CBDO, Milan Šamaj

Q: Before we jump to 2022 plans, can you please reflect on 2021?

A: We had our lows and highs. Market conditions were not in our favour. As Covid hit business, existing clients cut budgets and slowed new initiatives. Also, the sales cycle for new clients got much longer. So in the second and third quarter, we switched our effort to internal development to speed up the product release. From the fourth quarter, we got back to growth and even signed new important clients in the banking and utility sectors. 

Q: So you seem to be ready for a good start in 2022.

A: We feel we are ready to move to the next chapter where Netgrif becomes a vendor. The real milestone is the release of our product, Netgrif Application Engine (NAE) Community Edition on GitHub (scheduled for early February) and Enterprise Edition with Developer Portal. From now on, we are positioned to address massive global market demand for digital transformation. 

Q: What do you expect from the Community Edition?

A: We hope for building a community of fans and supporters among developers and users worldwide. Our product is fit to help people create rich solutions much easier and faster so we thought it would be great to open it for the community. For a start-up vendor of an enterprise platform, such a model is the way to scale globally and do it fast. We think some of the developers will contact us to ask for our advice, academy program or product support in case of larger implementations. We are also open to partners that would see their business perspective with Netgrif. An important piece of the puzzle is our commitment to education/ academy. Netgrif platform has been used for education at universities in Slovakia, we just started to cooperate with a university in Germany.

Q: How do you position the platform?

A: From our experience, NAE has already been accepted by clients of all sizes from small to enterprise-level for various use-cases. It has been used for end-to-end process orchestration and fast application development. It offers nice drag-n-drop forms for end clients with a strong BPM driven back-office automation. A unified low-code platform built on enterprise stack that has it all. Ideal for businesses that need to recover from the technology gap. We see that B2C industries (such as financial services, Insurance, Utility, Healthcare, GOV, logistics…) have complex processes and can utilize our platform best. 

Q: Where do you see partners in your business model?

A: Partners are key for our success in the long run. NAE drives demand for services. Once adopted by a client, it often leads to broad digital transformation initiatives around the platform. It creates an opportunity for partners that focus on such services to help clients and also tune their delivery model to differentiate from the competition. We prepare programs for channels, including Resellers, VARs, Integrators, OEMs and Consulting/ Advisory Companies. 

Q: How about cloud deployment?

A: A demo/ free version that is fully running in the public cloud is already available. Within 2022, we’ll launch Platform-as-a-Service for commercial and enterprise use. We cooperate with major cloud providers so that we have it ready according to customer preferences. Besides, there are already implementations of NAE in the private cloud, e.g. native cloud app in private AWS of a major bank.

Q: How do you see the business model in the long run?

A: Obviously, we focus on the short-term to mid-term perspective. We believe if we do it right, good things will happen. Hopefully, we can have close cooperation with clients, partners and technology vendors. Following PaaS, we want to bring a “marketplace” for SaaS partners that have good ideas and need a solution enabling fast time to market.

Q: So is this “The Year” for Netgrif?

A: Yes, most certainly from the business perspective. This is the roll-out year. It’s an outcome of all the hard work. Starting in R&D of Gabriel Juhas from the 1990s, resulting in Petriflow language in 2008, followed by the earliest version of NAE and the start of Netgrif in 2017. We can’t be more thankful to the first clients that have trusted us from the early years. It would neither be possible without our exceptional and loyal people. So, let’s roll out and write this new chapter together as a success story.